The plan is to reread all of Stephen King’s works in the order that they were published. Richard Chizmar of Cemetery Dance had the vision. I’m doing it because I am a writer and I want to improve my long fiction. I think there is something to be learned through this challenge. As Richard Chizmar and Bev Vincent put up their posts on the official site, I will link those in the corresponding ones of mine on this blog.
But now it is time for Rage. So, let’s get it on …
I will strive to be spoiler free as much as possible dealing with specific examples in a general way, but I will be discussing content in these blog posts.
I think Stephen King made a mistake in taking Rage off the market and out of publication.
It was his choice and his book. My opinion matters little on this subject as do most opinions of most people on most subjects. I don’t think King believes that Rage inspired school shootings. I do think he strongly and consistently supports free speech. I know his personal politics are opposed to gun possession and he has been outspoken on the subject in recent years. I don’t own any guns myself and I don’t particularly like them nor want them around my children. I am uncomfortable around police officers carrying guns. I am more uncomfortable around armed police officers than I am armed neighbors. While I don’t bear arms myself unless you count my bow and arrows, I believe in Second Amendment rights. I part sharply from King on that point. I don’t believe his belief on guns prompted his pulling of Rage, however.
Reading Chizmar’s essay on Rage which I will link in my After Rage post, I saw that he asked King whether he should include Rage in #StephenKingRevisited or skip it. King encouraged him to include it which I find encouraging. In Bev Vincent’s essay which I will also link on my After Rage post, I found out that King was visited by the FBI to be questioned concerning a supposed connection between a student reading Rage and one of many school shootings we have experienced in the United States. I didn’t know that. He seems to have pulled the book out of frustration over being bothered about the whole thing. I understand that, but I still see it as a mistake. First of all, screw you FBI [If the FBI is monitoring this, I am only using satire and do not wish you to screw yourselves at all. Please, don’t hurt me.] But like I said, screw you. I hope the agents were just big Stephen King fans and used the inquiry as an excuse to meet him. Even then, screw you. “Excuse us, Mr. King, we understand you wrote a book with words in it about things. You care to explain yourself?” No matter how they worded it, it is in fact as stupid as the dialogue I just wrote. Should have never happened. King’s books, Manson’s music, Insane Clown Posse’s make-up, and Ozzy’s hits played backward are guilt free. Back off. Put down the torches and pitch forks. Spoiler alert: The angry mob is the real monster. *GASP*
King certainly does not shy away from gun violence in his books. As I thought of the best examples, I realized that they are countless. Graphic gun deaths, city shootouts, and snuffing out characters’ lives with a bullet are all through his novels. To pick one as I almost did would be to skip a hundred others. I was going to use The Regulators, a late Bachman piece, as the example here. Great shootouts, but so many other stellar examples too.
King has a scene in another Bachman piece where a character flew a plane into a building. I don’t think terrorists were looking for ideas in a Bachman story any more than some kid picked up a book and said, “Guns? I never thought of that before.”
Wow, that Bachman guy writes some flippin’ crazy stuff, huh?
In one of his short stories, King describes an adult attacking a child next to a library in such graphic detail that it appears to show how the adult got away with it. I do not believe child predators are approaching this story as instructional.
I do not believe King supports knife violence, plane violence, or sexual violence anymore than he supports gun violence. Including it in a fictional story is not endorsing it even if a fictional character revels in it. I think the message of “killing people with guns is destructive and wrong” was clear from the beginning. Pulling this book from print while leaving all the others is an odd choice. Again, it is his and I don’t think it is meant to imply any level of censorship is appropriate. I disagree with the choice.
The last time I read Rage was well before I ever became a teacher. I taught for sixteen years and have been a full time writer for going on three years as of the writing of this blog post. I think I read Rage between summers while I was in high school. Never dreamed of shooting anyone as a result, by the way. So, that is 25 years or so now, I think. The whole reason I have a copy to read at all is because I got a copy of The Bachman Books four novel collection back in high school from a used bookstore and just happened to hold onto it through dozens of moves and disasters between then and now. Otherwise, I guess I would just have to read the essays of better men that could be trusted with such dangerous book words. “Excuse me there, son. I believe you have had just a little too much to think today. I’ll need you to come with me.” But I digress …
I’m curious how my own perspective will have changed. The bumbling teachers and administration were the others as I identified with the kids in my first reading. I’m not a huge fan of how public schools are run nor how they treat students and teachers these days, but maybe I’ll look at the story through the eyes of a teacher now. I’m curious to see.
Enough stalling. Time to reread Rage
Join me as I go.
I’ll keep you posted,
– Jay Wilburn, writer